Philadelphia offers lawyers to immigrants facing deportation

July 16, 2019 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia is joining forces with a New York-based nonprofit to provide lawyers for immigrants facing deportation.

Mayor Jim Kenney and representatives for the Vera Institute announced the plan on Tuesday.

The Vera Institute says its program for immigrants in the country illegally functions much like the public defender model in criminal court.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Kenney says the program would help Philadelphia “remain a place where everyone, including immigrants, feels safe and welcome.”

In immigration court, defendants generally don’t have the right to court-appointed counsel.

Philadelphia, which is a sanctuary city, has committed to pay $100,000 to support the program, which will be matched by Vera.

About 11 million immigrants are living in the U.S. illegally, with about 50,000 in Philadelphia.

Vera says about 18 cities and counties across the U.S. are part of the program.